Vein Facts:

Varicose veins are a sign that there is high pressure in the veins. This is called venous insufficiency or venous hypertension.

Vein Health

Facts about Varicose Veins, Leg Ulcers, Spider Veins.

While varicose veins and spider veins may be unavoidable in many patients, there are things that can improve the venous circulation and decrease the symptoms and the appearance of leg veins.

Tips for Reducing the Appearance of Varicose and Spider Veins

  • Avoid activities where you stand in one place for long periods of time, and if you are unable to move about, exercise in place by contracting your calf muscles by going up on your tiptoes several times an hour. This exercise empties the veins of the legs preventing over distention of the veins.
  • Exercise frequently. Exercise empties the veins of the legs and is beneficial to the cardiovascular system.
  • Wear good quality graduated compression hose if you have vein problems such as varicose veins. (Wearing these compression hose on long air flights will reduce the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Elevate your legs whenever convenient. This empties the veins of blood thus reducing the pressure in the veins.
  • Keep your body weight in the normal range. Obesity increases the venous pressure in the legs and caused added stress on the cardiovascular system.
  • If you are pregnant, you should be keenly aware of the increased risk of developing vein problems that accompanies pregnancy. These risks include development of varicose veins and the occurrence of clots in leg veins in both the superficial and deep veins.
  • Eat a healthy, high fiber diet and avoid constipation, which leads to staining and increasing intra-abdominal pressure, which in turn is transmitted to the veins of the leg.
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothings or undergarments – like girdles, stockings and socks – that restrict blood flow at the waist, groin and legs.
  • Rest your legs on pillows while sleeping – Try to raise legs above the level of the heart whenever possible.


  • While many supplements and lotions are touted to be miraculous cures for varicose or spider veins, most would do well to save their money rather than spend for these unproven agents. But there is evidence that horse chestnut, taken as a supplement, does tend to improve vein health by improving the tone and strength of veins. Some patients have shown improvement after taking horse chestnut capsules daily for several weeks. Those with kidney or liver disease and women who are pregnant or breast feeding should not take horse chestnut supplements.
  • Flavonoids, which contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, have been shown to improve some patients with vein disease. It is usually sold as pycnogenol and is made from pine bark extract. Tea from Arinca root or St. John’s wort is said to be effective for pregnant women having vein problems.
  • Vitamin E helps improve blood circulation and protects blood vessels from damage.

Vein Facts

  • Varicose (derived from the Latin root “varix” which means twisted) simply means swollen.
  • 25 million Americans have varicose veins. The incidence of varicose veins increases with age in men and women.
  • Varicose veins indicate that there is high pressure in the veins. This is called venous insufficiency or venous hypertension.
  • Varicose veins result when the 1-way valves become faulty causing a blood build-up in the veins. This stretches, enlarges and widens the veins.
  • Varicose veins can cause aching, burning, heaviness, tiredness, cramps and itching in the legs or they may not cause any pain at all.
  • Though deeper varicose veins are not visible, the skin above them may darkened and swell. In severe cases, varicose veins can burst or develop open sores (ulcers).
  • Arteries carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body while veins carry blood back to the heart. There are more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels within the body.
  • Hormonal changes occurring during pregnancy increase the severity of varicose veins.
  • Risks factors for the development of varicose veins include family history, pregnancy, and lack of mobility, specifically prolonged standing.
  • A varicose vein patient has a 30% risk during his or her lifetime of experiencing clotting of the varicosities, which is termed superficial thrombophlebitis, an acute painful inflammatory condition.
  • Spider veins are more common in women especially along the sides of the thighs. These may begin to develop in teenage years.
  • Spider veins are commonly thought not to cause symptoms, but patients often complain of pain or burning especially when standing.
  • Spider veins are more common in women than in men. They usually occur on the legs or face.
  • It is estimated that 20% of American women and 7% of American men suffer from venous disease.
  • At least 20% of patients with venous disease will develop leg ulcers.
  • The risk of developing varicose veins is 20% if neither parent had varicose veins, 47% if one parent had varicose veins, and 89% if both parents had varicose veins.
  • Exercise reduces varicose vein symptoms such as aching and heaviness of the legs.
  • “Travelers Thrombosis” or deep venous system clots that are associated with long air flights, car trips, or other prolonged relative immobilization of the legs can be prevented by periodic leg exercises and wearing graduated compression stockings during these times.
  • The prevalence of varicose veins in the adult western world population exceeds 20%.
  • In the USA the direct medical cost of chronic venous disease is estimated to be between $150 million and $1 billion annually.
  • Active venous ulcerations of the leg occur in up to 0.5% of the adult Western world population.
  • Modern minimally invasive procedures for varicose veins have replaced the “stripping” operations; patients having the minimally invasive procedures experience less pain, quicker healing, and more rapid return to usual activities.